Lately, I've found myself fascinated by side hustles that have the potential to be grown into full-time businesses. Given my interests in blogging, search engine optimization (SEO), and marketing, it should come as no surprise that I'd want my side hustle to be something I can use these skills to build.
Luckily, these skills can be used in countless endeavors, none more so than flipping websites.
Here is why I want website flipping to be my next side hustle, and here is why you should make it yours too.
What is website flipping?
Website flipping is a side hustle or online business in which an individual or group buys established website domains, improves the websites, and then sells them at a profit.
Primarily, flipping websites requires you to grow their traffic, increase their sales, or some combination of the two.
How to flip a website
Website flippers typically spend their time and money following five steps on each project they take on:
Purchase a domain
Improving core metrics
Growing web traffic
Monetizing the site
Selling the website
Your first step is to find websites worth buying. Believe it or not, there are actually a ton of places online to scour, but Flippa is my favorite.
Obviously, not every website will be worth acquiring. For this reason, it is integral that side hustlers do their due diligence before purchasing an existing web domain. Each flipper will have his/her own style and things to look for, but desirable features in a potential acquisition often include:
Valuable/popular domain names
Sites in a specific niche
The on-page SEO strength of a site
The off-page SEO of a site
The quality and quantity of existing content
Who a site's competitors are and how formidable they are
Over time, you'll learn which indicators are most important to you. I recommend that you pay the most attention to those factors that will help you determine how difficult it will ultimately be to make a profit from the site.
For me, this is primarily the quality of the content. A website with poor performance but good quality content is much easier for me to turn around than a site that pays attention to SEO but has horrible content.
As far as purchase prices go, I'm willing to take a longer-term horizon to earn larger profits, so I search for basic sites in the $250-$1,000 range with interesting concepts.
2. Purchase the domain
Once you've found a site that you're interested in working on, you'll want to purchase it. Depending on where you search for sites, you may have a couple of options.
On Flippa, for example, many sites are sold via a bidding process, though they also tend to have a price if you want to take ownership immediately.
If there is no bidding process in place, keep in mind that the purchase price is absolutely negotiable.
I recommend that you leverage any bidding system if available, at least until you're being consistently outbid. Even if the website sells in the meantime, there are always more fish in the sea!
3. Improving core metrics
For my more technical readers, this is where your search engine optimization and content writing skills will come into play.
As a website flipper, you'll absolutely need to pay attention to a number of key metrics and concepts that are integral for website performance. Today, I want to focus on:
Page load speed
Page load speed
Your domain's load speed is among the most important SEO metrics that Google tracks when determining how well your site will rank.
Luckily, there are a number of steps that you can take without too much efforts. Optimizing your images as JPGs/JPEGs will compress your images to manageable levels without sacrificing quality.
Finally, you may improve the site's loading speed by minimizing HTTP requests, minimizing the number of fonts you choose, and reducing server response time.
You'll want to keep track of the number of keywords that your site ranks for on Google, along with the individual rankings of each keyword. I recommend that you create a Google Search Console profile for each site that you buy, as you'll be able to track this information for free.
In time, you want to both increase the number of keywords your site ranks for, along with the average rankings of these keywords.
The easiest way to do this? Improving content. More on this in a minute.
Many people don't realize the important of optimizing URLs for each webpage on a site. Each page's URL should contain:
A clear indication of what the page is about (rather than some random combination of numbers, letters, and special characters)
The primary keyword that your page is trying to rank for
Words that are also in your H1/title tag
Header tags are an incredibly important concept to a website. They're designed to provide an outline to search engines to help them understand exactly what a page or article is about.
Here's how they work.
Your H1 tag is most commonly the name of your post. In this piece, for example, my H1 tag is "Why I Want Website Flipping to Be My Next Side Hustle." After reading this, Google expects the rest of my piece to be about this.
Next are my H2 tags, which are the larger black section headers. Within them, I have subheaders. The green ones are H3s and the small black ones are my H4 tags.
Having a well thought out outline helps readers digest your content more easily and increases the amount of time they'll spend on your site. The bottom line? It is a must for website flippers.
By the way, Neil Patel is an awesome resource for all things SEO, and I highly recommend you check out his blog and YouTube channel.
If you're serious about flipping websites, you'll also want to familiarize yourself with concepts like:
4. Growing web traffic
Once you've addressed many of these core metrics, you should naturally start to see your website's traffic grow. But you'll also need to commit to adding new content to your site regularly too.
Blogging is probably the best and the easiest way to do this.
I've written a guide on monetizing a blog, so that can be a great place to start. For blogging to be worth your efforts, though, you'll need to make sure you that you're:
Performing good keyword research: SEO tools such as SERanking and Ahrefs can help you identify good keywords to center your content around. Ideally, you're looking for those keywords with sufficient search volume but low competition.
Writing high quality, unique content: If you're looking to pen pieces and post within thirty minutes, you'll likely be better off paying a freelancer to produce content for you.
Building backlinks is the other piece to this puzzle.
In addition to blogging at least one time per week, the next best thing you can do for your flip is to build backlinks. Backlinks are hyperlinks that you can earn from other sites on the Internet due to the quality of your content, interest in your site, or another reason.
No matter what the reason, they are good for SEO and will make your website flipping efforts so much easier.
Backlinks also help signal that your site has authority and credibility, and even if it doesn't directly lead to more clicks from visitors of these websites linking to you, your Google/search engine rankings will improve over time.
5. Monetizing your web traffic
With your site in a healthier spot and generating more traffic, your priorities will soon pivot towards monetizing your web traffic.
There are three common ways that you can do this, including:
Selling a product or service
Affiliate marketing works best in sites with lots of web traffic (or at least very least, moderate levels of niched traffic). You can join affiliate programs for many of America's best known (and lesser known) companies and businesses.
In return, you'll receive links and graphics to place on your site. Each time a web visitor of yours uses on of these links to make a purchase or complete another qualifying event, you'll earn a commission!
In time, and with enough web traffic, you may be able to sell advertising space on your site. The most common way to do this is through the Google AdSense program, but you may also be able to directly sell space on your site directly to companies in your field.
Selling a product or service
Depending on the site's niche, you'll likely be able to begin selling products and/or services to your web visitors. Products can vary greatly depending on the topic of your site, while common services include online courses, coaching programs, and more.
Integrations with payment processing sites like Stripe, PayPal, and others oftentimes means that you don't need to build this functionality into your website.
Pros and cons to website flipping
In the spirit of transparency, I want to share with you the pros and cons to flipping web domains.
I'll start with the clear benefits:
Low acquisition costs: Many existing web domains can be purchased at really cheap points. This means that your risk is low compared to many of the other side hustles out there. This way, if you're unsuccessful in turning a profit, you're out little other than your time.
High profit potential: While it is impossible to estimate how much money you may be able to make, buying and selling websites absolutely comes with very high potential returns.
Can be worked from anywhere: You can buy and sell domains from anywhere in the world, so long as you have an Internet connection. Web flipping is among the most flexible of all side hustles you can pick.
Other potential benefits include diversifying your income streams and getting to exhibit your creativity as you improve websites.
Of course, there are still risks to website flipping, including:
Technical: Website flipping does require some technical skills in web design, SEO, and a knack for writing content that others want to read. These skills can take time to learn, but if you're interested, buying a small website for less than $100 can be a great way for you to experiment and find out what works.
Time-consuming: Each step of the process can take some time, and there is no way to truly estimate how long a certain flip may take until you already own a site.
Income is unpredictable: Since each project may be more time consuming than you think and not all flips will be successful, your income will likely be unpredictable. They key here is understanding when something isn't working, while at the same time making sure that you don't quit too early.
Why you should flip websites
Ultimately, the idea of flipping websites is an incredibly interesting one for me (and hopefully you) for two main reasons.
First, you'll routinely be able to work a side hustle or business that allows you to be creative and solve different problems each and every day. For me, this is a must in any job that I work.
But even more exciting than this is that your potential earnings are nearly uncapped. It is truly one of those jobs where finding success and pulling all the correct levers just one time can change the trajectory of your life and career.
Isn't that exciting?
If you're familiar with search engine optimization and content marketing, or you're willing to take a leap and learn, flipping websites can be one of the most lucrative businesses out there.
Now, I want to hear from you.
Would you consider flipping websites in your free time? Why or why not? Tell me in the comments below.
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